Sunday, 6 May 2018

Bingley to Ilkley 05/05/18

11 miles, via Priestthorpe, Greenhill, Micklethwaite, East Morton, Riddlesden, Rivock, 
 High Moor Plantation, Doubler Stones, Addingham High Moor, Addingham Moorside, 
  Cragg House, and Netherwood.

I had originally planned to get far away from West Yorkshire for May Day weekend, as the Tour de Yorkshire had seemingly threatened to get in the way of my trail, but it turns out that the cycling is going on far, far away on the Saturday, which allows me to spend much less money on travel as I project a two day circuit around the edges of Rombalds Moor, ideal for a spell that threatens to turn very warm indeed. Arrive at Bingley station at 10.10am, a bit late if we're being honest as the day already feels like it's hitting peak hotness, making my very first departure from it to pass the puzzlingly disused station house and meet Park Road to pass over the railway, the A650 and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, whilst getting a straight line view up the valley past the Damart factory to the high edge of Rombalds Moor that I will be passing over in a couple of hours. The first ascent for the day starts immediately, rising with the road past the industry at the canalside and up through the terraces of old north Bingley, before peeling from the main road as the more recent suburbia of Priestthorpe arrives, following Hall Bank Lane into the former region of Victorian villas that have since been consumed by suburban splurge. From New Mill beck, we meet a leafy path which leads up from a cul-de-sac to the driveway of Gawthorpe Hall, hidden away to the west, before following another up to the recent development around Pinedale and Oakwood Avenue, where a third path delves into the woods, rising behind the back gardens to give suggestions of an imminent Bluebell season before arriving behind Greenhill Hall, where the old driveway still runs through the trees. That's a lot of height gained as we meet Lady Lane, which has me glad that I've decided to put my regular boots back on for all this off road going, much of it to be immediately shed as we set off down Greenhill Lane, through the woods and the farms clinging to this high edge of the Aire's north side, splitting off at Greenhill Gate to join the footpath of Wood Lane that presses northwest in the shadow of the rough hillside that once was a Deer Park. Splendid views across the Aire come with the shady track, across Crossflatts and Sandbeds to the wooded hillside of Hollin Plantation, whilst we get more bluebell carpet to give the feeling of Spring in full force, even though the sunshine suggests the blaze of Summer is here already, as the track detours around Fairlady Farm, and then joins a field that is home to the most docile horses imaginable. This leads us to Carr Lane, and the very top of Micklethwaite, where we can take the windy lane downhill to the High Fold chapel corner and head down Holroyd Mill Lane, past Beck Farm Barn and off down the path to Morton Beck, noting the mill below getting a makeover, which is pretty much the rule for every rural property these days.

The view from Bingley to Rombalds Moor.

Path walking through Suburban Bingley.

Greenhill Hall, at the top of the day's first unnecessary summit.

The Airedale view, from Wood Lane.

Carr Lane, Micklethwaite.

Get a shady walk up from Hebble Bridge, to meet the heat in full force around the suburbia of Cliffe Mill Fold and Dimples Lane at the bottom edge of East Morton, rising to meet Main Road, and the Bousfield Arms, the Memorial hall and the Congregational chapel, and only an hour into the day, I'm already feeling the need for a rest and a heavy watering session, breaking at the bench on the Butts corner for elevenses, at least until the local 'Keep Morton Tidy' volunteers show up to give the seat some much needed remedial attention. Press westwards out of the village, past the Primary school and on along Carr Lane, passing above East Morton Golf Course, which keeps a bit of green space open to prevent the whole north side of the Aire valley from being filled with suburbia between Bingley and Keighley, which seems to have been the fate of the two fields beyond where the road slips down the hillside, since my ancient E288 was printed. The Thorneycroft estate holds little visual appeal to me, entirely built in beige bricks and false slate, so we can be grateful that the path along the field edge at its northern perimeter is still in situ, allowing us to take an undulating route with more greenery on its northern edge before we run into the woods that once surrounded the Bingley & Keighley Joint Isolation Hospital, which served those with contagious disease needs in the neighbouring town until the 1970s. Only the gates remain, at the head of Hospital Road, which has had Riddlesden's suburbia grow along it, as has Carr Lane to the north, strangely making a reappearance, and we join that to continue to the northwest, observing that all the growth in this town has been laterally, in ribbons or terraces spread along the hillside, looking of a mid 20th century vintage until we meet the crossing over to Banks Lane where things look a whole lot older. Push uphill to get a great view over Keighley from the yard of the Applegarth social club, and tag St Mary's church as a modest building with a very fine aspect, before continuing uphill among what must surely be some of the oldest semis in the suburban style in these parts, gradually losing houses on the south side of the road as the slope of the hill increases. Soon the village feels like its reaching its edge, as houses vanish from the north side of the road, but ribbons of suburban spread split from Banks Lane three times before we finally hit a corner at Bank House and the modest ascent starts to get a lot more serious, giving us a proper haul up to Heights farm before evening off a bit and giving us a kink in the lane to get the view down as we progress, back towards Keighley, and up to Hawk Cliffe tower, above Steeton, before we turn sharply uphill again, at Crom House (CROM!!!).

The Bousfield Arms and Main Road, East Morton.

Suburban splurge on the Aire's north bank.

The Isolation Hospital gates, Riddlesden.

St Mary's Church, Riddlesden.

Airedale's evolving view, from Banks Lane.

Two hours in and this supposed moorland walk hasn't seen much by way of moors yet, but that's due to change as Banks Lane approaches its top and we can look back to see Ovenden Moor and its wind farm, and attention can be drawn forward to Rivock Edge, rising beyond Silsden Road and showing its best rough gritstone face having been cleared of trees within the last few years, and detouring up to its trig would be tempting, if it wasn't for the fact that it's definitively on private land. Get off the roads anyway, to footpath and gravel track it over towards the TV relay mast that stands prominently on Rivock moor, before meeting the bridleway that will lead us into High Moor plantation, which looks like it might be ancient track on old maps, but it has just the vaguest of trod to follow as we pass over the 300m contour for the first time this year and set course for Rombalds Moor and some woodland walking. That doesn't come immediately as all of the southern plot of the plantation has been felled, leaving that landscape as a riot of stumps and greying conifer foliage, but does allow for a panorama over upper Airedale from Earl Crag around to Skipton Moor, as well as forward to White Crag and Nab End, and the path that we will be following over the moor, but the clearance doesn't make spotting the Rivock Oven cave any easier, still hiding somewhere up the hill. You can easily spot the Dew Stone, though, part of Simon Armitage's Stanza stones project, of which I've encountered three so far between Marsden and Ilkley without ever attempting the 50 mile trail, and that's the last thing to see up close before we head into the woods for a good mile or so, quickly losing all sense of immediate direction aside from being aware of dropping downhill slightly to make the passage over Dirk Hill Sike. The forestry track could easily tempt you into the heart of the plantation, seen before on my travels, but the right of way goes northwest-ish and maintains a descent surface and purpose of direction below the many fir trees, eventually emerging to give a sight line across the felled northern section of the woods, all the way up to West Buck Stones, and emerging on a course towards Black Pots farm, surely one of the most isolated holiday cottages. It's a rough and undulating track, populated by many moorland sheep and swinging above the descending wrinkles of Gill Grange clough, where many gurgling springs spring and attention wanders forwards to the distant boulders of the Gawk Stones, because we came this way for rock formations, though these aren't actually the ones we are looking for, despite their impressive size, as our target does its best to hide before rising like rocky mushrooms above the moorland edge.

Rivock Edge, stripped of trees for all to see.

The Rivock Moor TV relay mast.

The denuded plantation, and the Dew Stone.

Deep inside High Moor plantation.

The lane forward to Black Pots and the Gawk Stones.

I speak of course of the Doubler Stones, perhaps the only notable wind and water carved gritstone formations on the entirety of Rombalds Moor, though there had been many more that might have formed an attraction to rival Brimham Rocks, if they hadn't been quarried out, and unrecorded for posterity, in the 19th century, so these will have to suffice for now, standing a good 6ft tall on the edge of rough rock face. They're not actually on access land, but that doesn't stop any of the visitors from getting up close to them, and no one at the farm below the lane are feeling eager to shoo anyone away, and I'll pause here for lunch, as I'm feeling the need for it, finding that my pizza is still as warm as it was when I left home, and another litre of liquid goes down, as the heat has given me a fierce thirst. Eventually strike on with the walk, hitting the path that rises over the Doubler Stones Allotment, which allows a bunch of evolving views back into Airedale and to the path previously walked before we scale the wall onto Addingham High Moor, to top the day out at over 375m, and to not even have that much time to enjoy the altitude and the oft-walked side of this upland before it's time to head downhill again. Meeting the cairn above the rough and quarried edge of Millstone Lumps, where the passage uphill was made on the Millennium Way, is our cue to descend on the same path, getting that rapid revelation to Upper Wharfedale that I love so much, trying hard to not let it distract me as steps are carefully taken down among the rocks before pausing to absorb it fully at the ladder style. Then it's the long downhill to Addingham Moorside, taking in the sunlit sweep of Wharfedale and meeting the horribly boggy stretch midway down, which I had completely forgotten about, and it looks like the path had been redirected about it for a while, before someone fixed the wall to ensure we still get our boots muddy as we descend down to meet the passage through the gorse bushes. Land on Moorside Lane by Lumb Beck B&B and the Ghyll House farm, and hit the eastwards track and the last leg, still in the shadow of the moorside edge but now focusing the attention away from my favourite view as the road hangs around the 230m contour, passing Sunny Bank and Upper Gatecroft farm before declining slightly on the descent to Cragg House. This time I will find the route I want downhill to the main road, but pathfinding here is as complicated as it ever was, as the signage tells you that all the passages among the farm buildings are strictly private whilst offering no alternative route, while the map still shows a right of way that literally passes through a barn, which is absolutely no help to anyone.

The Doubler Stones, the only notable rock formation on the moor!

The view back to the path just traveled, Doubler Stones Allotment.

Upper Wharfedale revealed, from Millstone Lumps,
Addingham High Moor.

Addingham Moorside.

Cragg House, where None Shall Pass!

So pace the path towards Hardwick House and then slip through a gate into the descending fields once the farmer on his quad bike has ridden out of sight, getting a grasp of where I should be heading on a route that surely gets very little traffic, angling downhill and only having sheep to startle on the way across a quartet of plots to reach Netherwood Farm, where I have to walk through a garden to reach the track that runs past the main house, with the barns and cottages that surround it. Another hamlet-let off the beaten track, is soon departed as focus is drawn back towards the A65 at the bottom of the valley, crossing another quartet of fields to be glad that no one farms cattle in Wharfedale, as we get another grand view over to Myddelton Lodge, rising high on the north bank, and meeting the road by the missing railway previously observed, with only the vaguest shadow of its passage westwards being traceable to the keen eyed. Join Skipton Road again to make the passage around Hollin Hall, and ponder that last year's quest for the lost MR line really should have come this way as I spot that the layby outside the town is where the road used to kink to pass under the lost bridge, and that there's one last in situ capstone of it by the drive to Churn Milk Hall Laithe. Rabbit spot on the fields before crossing to enter Ilkley via Victoria Avenue, passing the house with the octagonal tower and turret, pulling sharply uphill into suburbia on a haul that feels twice as long as it should at this time of day, to meet Kings Road, where the Victorian villas were large enough to have external service buildings for their staffs, and where many have proved too large to endure into the 21st century to be replaced by so many apartment blocks. It seems two have been taken on by nuns of the Sisters of Holy Cross & Passion, and the most notable of all is of course Heathcote, the best building in town, designed by Edwin Lutyen's in 1906, which utterly dominates the road and has the large 1920s semis on the approach to town look altogether modest in comparison. Past the Baptist church, we shift to pass around Ilkley's memorial garden and arrive on Grove Road, to soon find that the local citizenry, and many others, have come out to enjoy the sunshine along the main shopping street, filling the pavements and yards outside every cafe and restaurant, as well as all the available green spaces, which has me wondering just how mental it might have been when the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire's second day concluded here yesterday. I'll not join them for refreshment though, prefering to head homeward, landing at the station at 3.15pm, which is late for an 11 mile day, but concluding with enough water left for the journey counts as a triumph, and anyway, we'll be back to complete this circuit on Monday, as the sunshine and heat endure still, hopefully.

Descending to Netherwood Farm.

Lost Railway was here, looking towards Addingham.

Lost Railway was here, looking towards Ilkley.

Heathcote, the best house in the town.

Grove Road, dressed up for Carnival, and the TdY.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3225.5 miles
2018 Total: 117 miles
Up Country Total: 2937.7 miles
Solo Total: ????.? miles

Next Up: Back the way we came, after a fashion, on Bank Holiday Monday.

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